Restoring Love

by

God takes sexual sin seriously. So must we.

The depth of His resolve on this issue can only be plumbed on Calvary. In the agony of His Son, the full measure of His devotion to opposing our perversions becomes clear. He is serious, deadly serious, about how we live and love together.

But why? Why should it matter so much to Him and, therefore, to the Christian and the church?

The nature of God’s resolve on this very personal issue is grounded not so much in our behavior, not in our doing right or wrong. Rather, His determination is fundamentally grounded in Himself — in what He is like, and therefore what we ought to be like, as creatures made imago Dei (in the image of God).

For this reason, there’s more at stake in sex than the freedom and pleasure of two isolated individuals. The imaging of God hangs in the balance!

Will the utter holiness of Christ’s passion for His Church be portrayed in the way that is most becoming to both Bride and Groom (Eph. 5:32; see also Ps. 45; Song 4, 7)? Or will their union be taken lightly and made sport of in the bodies and souls of those He came to save?

As Christians, living in a wicked and perverse generation, we must wake up and see this pet sin of our generation for what it really is. Confusion about sexual evils and the cherishing of them in our hearts, minds, and lives must not be tolerated. Christian duty calls us to strain every nerve and to nip it in the bud, crying out to our heavenly Father and His incarnate Son to provide the ongoing work of the great Holy Spirit to mortify sexual sin in us and vivify us to clean Christian living.

But that does not mean that we are intolerant of forgiveness! Jesus died to pay for sins just like these in the lives of sinners like us (1 Tim. 1:8–17; 1 Peter 3:18). His death demands that we take these sins seriously and that we take their forgiveness with utter seriousness as well.

Have you broken fellowship with the triune God? Have you danced to the tune of your culture and your hormones, perverting the picture of God you were meant to draw with your life? Then flee to the cross and trust in the Savior! The death of Jesus is sufficient to cover even these sins, these secret, horrible sins of the heart and the mind, the bed and the browser.

Perhaps your neighbor has done the breaking. Perhaps he has twisted and bent the goodness of God into an idol of despair. Such worship of body and life repulses you, incarnating all the decadence of post-Christian culture that so deeply offends you. Do not despair! You are not alone: the Lord God Almighty is offended too! He knows more about the details than you ever will, and the affront is more directly against Him than it will ever be against you.

Christians must forgive and restore repentant sinners, not because we deny or ignore the reality of their guilt and sin, but precisely because we take them and their Savior so seriously. It is God’s good pleasure by His Word and Spirit to unite contemptible creatures like us to His holy Son. We should not be so surprised when He does the same for others!

Those so impacted by God’s regenerating Spirit cannot be turned away. They are wed to Christ by the Word and by the Spirit (Rom. 7:4). How could we ever lock them out of His house? He has bought them with a price, redeemed them from the pit — the same price and the same pit as in our pathetic cases. These sins of the flesh are dark and dank, but they are not the unforgivable sin of rejecting the Holy Spirit! Thanks be to God, for there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents, and there should be joy on earth and in the church as well.

Repentance demands restoration (Luke 15:7). We must follow God’s lead, and if He has made peace with the penitent sinner by the blood of the Lamb, then so must we. But that does not mean that we make peace with the sin.

God’s habit and economy does not always conform to the patterns of our thinking. We would not bother with repulsive sinners; we would be satisfied with saving more respectable ones! But His love is such that it reaches out and transforms deep darkness into light, rather than just chasing away the shadows (Luke 5:27–32; 8:26–39). He has forgiven, so we must too.

Such ruthless dealing with sin is scarcely common in evangelicalism today. Gallop and Pew polls tell us the church looks so very much like the world — in attitude, behavior, and sins (Jude 5–16). All too often, the church would be doing well to live up to the standards of the world, so far short do we fall of our Lord’s commands and expectations (1 Cor. 5:1).

However, our Lord calls us out of the world; while living in it, we are not to be stained by it (James 1:27). We are to be in it but not to love it, particularly with regard to sexual sins, which so easily can entangle us (1 John 2:15–17; 5:21).

The bride of Christ has a wedding for which to prepare! We need to be dressed in an embroidered gown of good works woven in our lives to His glory (Ps. 45:13–15; Rev. 19:7–8). And we need to keep that dress spotless and clean, especially from sins like these, until the great day of His arrival!

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